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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Our language can just be irritating

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

At the end of the day and with all due respect, I personally - and absolutely - believe our language is fairly unique and at this moment in time, in some ways it's a nightmare but it's not rocket science. I believe that 24/7.

Congratulate me! In the above paragraph, I have used each of the 10 most irritating phrases in the English language as compiled this week by researchers at Oxford University.

These learned experts in all things English have pored over thousands of speeches, interviews and written document to compile the most overused and irritating phrases in our mother tongue.

And from the standpoint of the British at least, they seem to have covered most of the bases.

The fact is, when it comes to our language, we are prone to adopt some fancy phrase we've heard and repeat it time and time again. "At the end of the day" is particularly popular as is "it's not rocket science." I can't pinpoint their origin nor fully explain their popularity but I find myself using both expressions in conversation and in print. You may be guilty as well.

But the British list omits some annoying words and phrases on this side of the pond. Let's take the word "friggin'" for example. You and I both know the word is a substitute for a much worse word but somehow it has become acceptable in the classroom and in general conversation. It should not be. It's overused and quite frankly, it sucks - which is another phrase that has outlasted its welcome.

The corporate business world gave us the word "synergy" and then used it so often it became a laughing stock of sorts. Synergy is now used as a mocking term for those fed up with the phony nature of the corporate culture.

Gridlock no longer pertains to traffic congestion but is used incorrectly and repeatedly. "In lieu of" makes us seem smarter than we are. I'm not even sure of the language origin of "lieu" but it should evaporate in lieu of some other phrase that will soon become overused and tired.

And today's wordy rage also includes "footprint" as in our carbon footprint. I'm growing increasing sick of that word already.

Language is an interesting subject. Slang has a way of seeping into the "common" language and younger people especially don't know the difference. And that's not to mention the language of text messaging which is in a world by itself.

I can't help but wonder what future phrases might someday become so abused and overused that they will make an irritating list. But then again, at the end of the day, I don't really care.

The truth is it doesn't take a rocket scientist to devise a list of overused words. And with all due respect, it doesn't take much to write a column about their findings either!